Chicken N Pickle to host national Pickleball Masters invitational this fall
The Wichita Eagle | Kaylie McLaughlin
This fall, Chicken N Pickle will host the first-ever Franklin Pickleball Masters Pro Invitational, the event boasting the largest cash-prizes the sport has ever seen totaling $50,000.
On Sept. 21 and Sept. 22, Wichita’s own Chicken N Pickle, at 1240 N Greenwich Rd, will welcome pickleball players from all over the country to play in the tournament put on in collaboration with Franklin Sports. There will be Men’s, Women’s and Mixed Doubles divisions in a single elimination bracket played on six courts. Top-competing duos can take home up to $10,000.
Andy Gensch, tournament director, said the tournament will be relatively small, featuring about 30 players.
Pickleball national champions like Ben Johns and Tyson McGuffin are expected to play as well as local all-stars Matt Wright and Lucy Kovalova.
The Wichita location of Chicken N Pickle is new to the area, opening fully in March of this year.
“The decision to have it in Wichita was to debut our newest property,” Gensch said. “The idea behind this tournament is to rotate it among the Chicken N Pickle properties going forward.”
Next year, he said, the tournament will be in San Antonio, TX where a Chicken N Pickle is planned to open in the next few months.
The partnership the tournament is based on came about because of Chicken N Pickle’s unique layout and business design, Gensch said. The facilities are able to support world class tournaments, but also have regular, day-to-day, social games of pickleball and courts for rent for shuffleboard, pickleball and bocce ball. Outdoor games of corn hole and super-sized Jenga are free to play.
“It’s the most unique venue in the US,” he said. “The spectator experience is really apart of our DNA as a business.”
Along that wavelength, Gensch said the menu for the tournament might feature some new specialty items or have expanded offerings to give people in attendance plenty of options to choose from.
Gensch said the business is expecting a big turnout.
“We’re staffing and building seating for a stadium court that will seat 300 people, plus court-side boxes and standing room only,” Gensch said. “Throughout each day, we are anticipating 500 to 1,000 people.”
There are still plenty of packages available, Gensch said, but all of the premium, court-side seating tickets sold out within 24 hours of the tournament announcement.
Tickets for standing room only viewing and seating in the custom-built stadium section are still available. Tickets start at $10 a piece and increase in price from there.
There will also be a live-stream of the tournament available.
“I hope Wichita will come out from a local perspective and support a really special weekend of entertainment and fun,” Gensch said.